Denial isn’t just a river in Egypt. No matter how hard we try, denial can be an incredibly powerful influence on our lives and on the lives of the people around us. We often recognize denial clearly in others, but can have a hard time seeing it in ourselves. Denial is often an unconscious defense mechanism that keeps us from recognizing the reality of our situation, feelings, or thoughts. We rationalize our behavior, other peoples’ behavior, and ignore obvious red flags pointing us to the truth.
Although denial isn’t a situation we want to find ourselves in, it does have a purpose. Denial allows us to cope with trauma, disappointment, and can get us through some hard situations. Unfortunately, as we grow older, denial can be incredibly detrimental to your health and your reality.
When we are in denial, it can be difficult to wrap our minds around the fact that we aren’t seeing what is right in front of us. Having trusted friends and family members speaking truth into our lives can help, but you have to listen to these people. They want what is best for you and may be noticing things you aren’t. Trust the words of the people around you; they might have observed your denial better than you have.
If you notice yourself getting defensive about a person or a situation, examine this response. You might be in denial about how that person or event makes you feel, how it impacts your life, or what it really means to you. This defensive feeling, if repressed, could mean that you are in denial.
Avoidance is another sign that you might be in denial. Avoiding a person or a situation because it makes you sad, uncomfortable, or angry can lead to problems in your life snowballing. Work on facing your problems head on; this will allow you to find out what works for you and what doesn’t, allowing you to problem solve better in the future.
It can be difficult to give yourself some grace when you notice that you are in denial about certain situations or people. However, having love, compassion, and grace for yourself is key to recognizing and dealing with denial in your life. Fear is the core of denial; this is the fear that tells us we aren’t good enough, that we’ll never be good enough, and that we are disappointing the people around us. Being patient with yourself and giving yourself time to deal with feelings of denial can allow you to grow better and stronger as a person not held back by fear or denial.
By loving yourself, you can give yourself the ability to grow stronger in yourself to become who you are supposed to be.